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Dan Gillmor

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Posted on Techdirt - 16 March 2016 @ 11:36am

Journalism Professor Dan Gillmor On Why You Should Support Techdirt's Crowdfunding Campaign

With a little more than a week remaining in our crowdfunding campaign to support our coverage of the encryption fight, well known media commentator and professor Dan Gillmor offers his thoughts on why Techdirt’s coverage is so important.

Help Techdirt Cut Through The Confusion In The Crypto Fight

The “FBI-versus-Apple” story of recent weeks has brought a vital issue to the front burner: whether we will have secure technology in the future?or at least the chance to have secure technology?or not.

In reality, this isn’t only about Apple or the FBI. It’s about the considerable weight of government in its zeal to have access to everything we say and do in the digital realm?which is to say, increasingly, almost everything we say and do.

The Obama administration, and governments around the world, believe they have an innate right to whatever information they want. This is a law-enforcement-first mentality, and in many ways an understandable one in a sometimes dangerous environment. But governments also want something they assuredly cannot have: a way to crack open our devices and communications, willy-nilly, when we’re using encryption tools that make it difficult if not impossible to do so without users turning over the keys to their digital locks.

They call this a “privacy versus security” debate. It is, in fact, a “security versus security” issue: If they get backdoors into our devices, software and networks, they will?according to just about every reputable non-government security and encryption expert?guarantee that we will all be less secure in the end, because malicious hackers and criminals (some of whom work for government) will ultimately get access, too. Governments want magic math, and they can’t have it. It’s also a free speech issue, a huge one, because the government is telling Apple it has to write new code and sign it with a digital signature.

Sorry, this is binary. We have to choose. One choice is to acknowledge that bad guys have a way to have some secure conversations using encryption, thereby forcing law enforcement and spies to come up with other ways to find out what the bad guys are doing. The other choice is to reduce everyone’s security, on the principle that we simply can’t afford to let bad people use these tools.

Sadly, the journalism about this has been reprehensibly bad, at least until recently, outside of the tech press. Traditional Big Media basically parrot government people, including most recently President Obama himself, even though they’re finally starting to wake up to what’s happening. John Oliver’s HBO program last Sunday was a sterling example of how media can treat this complex topic in a way that a) tells the truth; and b) explains things with great clarity.

Mike Masnick and his site, Techdirt, have been leaders in covering the way various liberties and technology intersect. Now they’re crowdfunding to add more coverage of encryption and its ramifications. I’m supporting this initiative and hope you’ll give it some thought as well. We need more such coverage, and we can depend on Mike and team to provide it.

Reposted from Dan Gillmor’s blog

Help Techdirt Cut Through The Confusion In The Crypto Fight

Posted on Techdirt - 9 November 2013 @ 12:00pm

Dan Gillmor's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

Greetings to all. If you’re like me, you’ve made Techdirt a must-read stop. It’s also obviously in that category for many of the folks I follow on Twitter, because I increasingly see links to posts here.

Dave Allen’s “Musicians on the Wrong Side of History” resonated for all kinds of reasons, not least the fact that I used to play music for a living. I suspect I’d never have left music if today’s technology had been around in my day, because it would have enabled us to do things we couldn’t contemplate back then. Allen’s deconstruction of several famous musicians’ songs of woe is worth reading by anyone who’s a creator or “consumer” (a word I hate and wish we could replace). Mike Masnick, meanwhile, told us about a Facebook post by Billy Bragg — who’s not enamored, in general, about the Internet’s effect on the music business — explaining why the record labels are the major problem with the streaming services.

Meanwhile, as someone who’s been a member of the fabled “traditional media” and who still dabbles in it, I always enjoy reading Techdirt’s takes on the latest follies in the news media. Two notable pieces this week including the totally unsurprising discovery that pro-NSA, anti-leak guests have dominated media coverage of Edward Snowden’s revelations. Even given the tendency of journalists — and the Washington press corps in particular — to serve as stenographers for the powerful, this was disheartening.

Governments have been trying to demonize the journalists who’ve told the rest of us about what’s in the NSA documents, and their efforts have, as you’d expect, engendered plenty of official torturing of logic, not to mention hypocrisy. The UK government has been making a variety of insane statements about David Miranda, Glenn Greenwald’s partner, who was held for hours at Heathrow airport on his way back to Brazil from Germany — and topping the recent list was the assertion that Miranda was engaged in what might qualify as terrorism. The abuse of terrorism laws to threaten journalists in other countries brought U.S. condemnation, as it should, but our State Department didn’t do the same in this case.

But it was wonderful to read the latest in the saga of “Team Prenda,” the odious copyright trolls who at long last are getting hammered by some clued-in judges in several jurisdictions. We can all rejoice that this crew “loses big again” — and again — maybe, just maybe, justice will prevail.

Mike’s explanatory-sarcasm quotient reached new highs “Office Depot Sends World’s Worst DMCA Notice To Reddit” — a piece one hopes the legal gnomes at the office-supply company scanned carefully. Or better yet, maybe their bosses read it and invited them to get more suitable employment, because they sure didn’t seem to know much about the law they were citing.

Likewise, Tim Cushing’s deconstruction of the unintentionally hilarious Keith Alexander video “interview” — with highlights from the comments, some of which are just brilliant — had me laughing out loud at points. This was awkward, as I was at a conference. At least I didn’t spit out the coffee.

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